Bury pylons says action group
Pressure is on the government to make a long-term commitment to bury the unsightly power pylons that stretch across central Auckland.
Close to 3000 signatures were gathered on two petitions steered by political group Roskill Community Voice and Maungakiekie-based Labour list MP Carol Beaumont.
They were tabled at Parliament in December and are now with the Commerce Committee where they will be reviewed.
Roskill Community Voice member David Holm believes the Bury the Pylons campaign helped the group earn a majority on the Puketapapa Local Board in last year's local elections.
"We pushed it very hard with signs all over the place," he says.
"Auckland's supposed to be becoming the most livable city in New Zealand and we think the pylons need to go underground to enable the city to grow and be more livable."
Mr Holm says undergrounding will improve security of supply as well as the aesthetics of the area.
Mt Roskill resident David Whitehead lives under a pylon and says recently implemented restrictions are hampering landowner's ability to build.
"We've lived here for 46 years without any problem, but it's now going to go on our LIM report, which will be a negative factor to the value of the house because we are right plum underneath one."
There are about 60 high voltage towers in the Puketapapa Local Board area, as well as a number in Onehunga and in the west.
According to Transpower the cost of undergrounding runs from $5 million to $15m per kilometre.
To put all of Transpower's 400km of urban lines underground would cost an estimated $4 billion.
But Mr Holm says there is money available to be put aside for the project.
"Transpower has now finished some big projects and they are dishing out big dividends," he says.
"In their report they actually suggest that funds could be made available by cutting the dividend back."
Transpower paid the government $294.7m worth of dividends for the 2012-2013 financial year.
Labour MP for Mt Roskill Phil Goff is backing the campaign.
He and Ms Beaumont are angling for seats on the select committee that will be reviewing the petitions after submissions close on February 18.
"We accept that it will take a number of years and it will need to be done step-by-step. We know it won't happen immediately but we want a commitment," Mr Goff says.
He says the $28m project to upgrade the Onehunga foreshore will be tainted by the huge metal structures.
"There is nobody that wouldn't agree that those pylons aren't a blot on the landscape when you look across to the Manukau Heads," he says.
"And it's not a fair go for the people that live under the lines."
Ms Beaumont says there is huge support for the campaign and planning to make it happen needs to be set in place.